United States Virgin Islands

Last updated on: 27 April 2012

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

US Virgin Islands
Whether Specific law enacted: 
Yes
Number of people prosecuted: 
None reported
Number of people convicted: 
None reported
Key wording in the law: 

§ 888. Exposure by another of HIV

Key Cases: 

None

Discussion: 

U.S. Virgin Islands Code Annotated. Title 14 Crime. Chapter 43 Health and Safety.

§ 888. Exposure by another of HIV

  1. Any person who exposes another to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by engaging in unprotected sexual activity or by sharing hypodermic needles/syringes when the infected person knows at the time of the unprotected sex/sharing of needles that he is infected with HIV, has not disclosed his HIV-positive status, and acts with the specific intent to infect the other person with HIV, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
  2. Any person who exposes another to the human immunodeficiency virus by donating, selling, or attempting to donate or sell blood, semen, tissues, organs, or other bodily fluids for the use of another, except as determined necessary for medical research or testing, and when the infected person knows at the time that he is infected with HIV, has not disclosed his HIV-positive status, and acts with the specific intent to infect another person with HIV, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
  3.  Evidence that the person had knowledge of his HIV-positive status, without additional evidence, shall not be sufficient to prove specific intent.
  4. Transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus does not have to occur for a person to be convicted of a violation of this section.
  5. As used in this section, the following definitions shall apply

(1) “Sexual activity” means insertive vaginal or anal intercourse on the part of an infected male, receptive consensual vaginal intercourse on the part of an infected woman with a male partner, or receptive consensual anal intercourse on the part of an infected man or woman with a male partner.

(2) “Unprotected sexual activity” means sexual activity without the use of a condom.

—Added Mar. 5, 2005, No. 6730, § 7, Sess. L. 2005, p. 69.

Any person who exposes another to HIV by:

  • Engaging in unprotected sexual activity; or
  • Sharing hypodermic needles/syringes; or
  • Donating, selling, or attempting to donate or sell blood, semen, tissues, organs, or other bodily fluids for the use of another, except as determined necessary for medical research or testing;

When the infected person

(1) knows at the time that he is infected with HIV,

(2) has not disclosed his HIV-positive status, and

(3) acts with the specific

intent to infect the other person with HIV, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Evidence that the person had knowledge of his HIV-positive status, without additional evidence, shall not be sufficient to prove specific intent.

Transmission of HIV is not required.

“Sexual activity” means:

  • Insertive vaginal or anal intercourse on the part of an infected male;
  • Receptive consensual vaginal intercourse on the part of an infected
  • woman with a male partner; or
  • Receptive consensual anal intercourse on the part of an infected man
  • or woman with a male partner.

“Unprotected sexual activity” means sexual activity without the use of a condom.

Engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse with the specific intent to transmit HIV is prohibited. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, conviction and imprisonment may result from engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse, but only under very specific circumstances. It is an offense punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine if an HIV-positive person

(1) knows that she/he is HIVpositive,

(2) has not disclosed HIV status to sexual partners, and

(3) engages in unprotected sexual activity with the specific intent to infect her/his partner with HIV[1].

Evidence that an HIV-positive person knew of her/his HIV status and engaged in unprotected sex is not sufficient, however, to prove specific intent to infect[2]. It is not clear what evidence would be required to prove intent to infect. Presumably, testimony regarding statements from an HIV-positive person that she/he wished to spread HIV could suffice.

Transmission of HIV to a sexual partner is not required for conviction[3].

This HIV exposure law is explicitly limited to situations where HIV-positive persons expose others to activities known to transmit HIV, and where proof of intent to transmit HIV is required.

If a condom is used during sexual intercourse, then there is no violation of the statute[4]. In addition, the law’s definition of “sexual activity” includes only: “Insertive vaginal or anal intercourse on the part of an infected male; receptive consensual vaginal intercourse on the part of an infected woman with a male; or receptive consensual anal intercourse on the part of an infected man or woman with a male.”[5]

Under the terms of this HIV exposure law, it is a complete defense to prosecution if HIV status is disclosed to sexual partners before engaging in consensual sexual activity[6]. However, individuals living with HIV should be aware that disclosure of HIV status may be difficult to prove without witnesses or some form of incontrovertible evidence.

At the time of publication, the authors were not aware of any criminal prosecutions of individuals on the basis of their HIV-positive status in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sharing needles or syringes with the specific intent to infect another person with HIV is prohibited.


[1]V.I. CODE ANN. tit. 14, § 888(a) (2010).

[2]14, § 888(c).

[3]§ 888(d).

[4]§ 888(a) (limiting punishable conduct to “unprotected sexual activity”)

§ 888(e)(2) (defining “unprotected sexualactivity” as sexual activity without the use of a condom)

[5]§ 888(e)(1).

[6]§ 888(a).